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Take the stress out of planning your Bayfield getaway. On the blog, you'll get the inside scoop of where to go, what to see, and what to do. 

Cross-Country Skiing in Bayfield, Wisconsin: 6 Ways to Win a Pie at Mt. Ashwabay’s Summit Ski Race

Cross Country Skiing

Mt. Ashwabay Ski and Recreation area has some of the most beautiful cross-country ski trails in our area.

They wind their way through pine and hardwood forests, past Nourse’s 1920s sugarbush cabin, and ascend to the top of the hill overlooking Lake Superior.

Cross-country skiing in Bayfield, Wisconsin couldn’t be better. With over 40km of groomed classic and skate trails woven along the hillside of the Pike’s Creek Basin, you’ll definitely want a piece of the pie (pun intended).

For the last 18 years, a small but mighty group of cross-country skiers have gathered for a friendly race to the top of Mt. Ashwabay. Over time, this friendly race has gained the attention of skiers of all ages with both competitive and non-competitive divisions.

For me (Mollie), the Mt. Ashwaybay Summit Race and The Book Across the Bay bring back memories from my MN Biathalon days and the ski suit I still wear.

This week, I’m inviting you to explore both cross-country skiing events and consider hauling your skis up north to participate in these one-of-a-kind events.

Mt. Ashwabay is a Ski and Recreation Area for the Community

A map of Mt. Ashwabay Nordic Trails in Bayfield, WI

Mt. Ashwabay Ski and Recreation Area is a community-supported hillside that spans over 65 acres. Dating back to the 1940s, this mighty hill has been a staple of winter adventure for all who live here. 

Most locals can share at least a story or two about learning how to ski on the “little hill overlooking the big lake.”

But something that’s been gaining more attention is the impressive cross-country trail system that winds its way through its adjacent forests.

These trails have a Narnia-like feel and offer a memorable experience for skiers of all ages and levels.

But for those like me with a more competitive edge, the Mt. Ashwabay Summit Ski Race is a friendly event where the grand prize is a homemade pie. And let me tell you, after you’ve skied to the summit of Mt. Ashwabay, nothing tastes sweeter!

Your Race Day Experience – Where Pride and Pie Matter

I know it may not sound like much to win a pie, but something is endearing about Mt. Ashwabay and this friendly competition.

It’s got an old-school charm to it, just like my early 2000s race suit, which you can’t help but love. 

The Mt. Ashwabay Summit Ski Race, a Birkie qualifying event, invites skiers of all ages, from 4th grade to adventurous seniors, to take part in one of its six events.

Your six race options include:

  1. 30k Skiathlon
  2. 30k Classic
  3. 30k Skate
  4. 15k Classic
  5. 15k Skate
  6. Youth: 3.5k Freestyle, 7k Freestyle (Skate or Classic)

This year’s race will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024. All participants are promised a slice of a homemade pie and a not-so-humble pie with bragging rights for the winners.

Another event worth mentioning is none other than the enchanting Book Across the Bay.

Book Across the Bay – A Unique Cross-Country Ski Race on Lake Superior

Snowshoes in one of the rooms of Seagull Bay Motel in Bayfield, WI

The Book Across the Bay is a unique snowshoe and cross-country ski race ON Lake Superior. This year’s event kicks off on Saturday, February 17, 2024.

For the last 26 years, this time-honored tradition has drawn thousands of participants to ski or snowshoe on the ice of Lake Superior. With a track illuminated by candlelight, bonfires, and a fire-breathing dragon, it’s an event you can’t miss.

The course is groomed for both classic and skate skiers. And it has a rolled section for snowshoers and hikers.

As each wave of participants step onto the ice, there’s something enchanting about venturing across the ice under a sky filled with stars. The 10k-ish race has unique support stations at each mile marker where you can:

  • Warm yourself by a fire
  • Nibble some cookies
  • Sip hot chocolate

Before moving on along the course.

At the finish line, celebrate with other participants while watching fireworks, drinking local beer, and listening to live music. 

This event has a fun and joyful vibe you won’t want to miss.

Explore Bayfield’s Winter Wonders

Even if you’re not a skier, there’s plenty to enjoy during Bayfield’s winter season.

Mt. Ashwabay not only boasts its cross-country ski trails, but it also provides opportunities for:

  • Downhill skiing
  • Fat biking
  • Snowshoeing

In fact, the newly built Pileated Woodpecker Trail was built with snowshoeing in mind. It starts at the very bottom of the Pike’s Creek Basin and ascends along its ridges to Mt. Ashwabay.

Plus, there are other opportunities for winter hiking in Bayfield, offering a more relaxed and peaceful feel.

Mollie Carrier fat biking in Bayfield, WI,

Winter fat biking is an up-and-coming hobby that has recently graced the Northwoods. If you prefer two wheels, you may enjoy Mt. Ashwabay’s 12 km of groomed trails winding its way up to the summit overlooking Lake Superior.

And if conditions are just right, venturing over to Madeline Island by driving on the ice road, an extension of Wisconsin County Highway H, is an option. 

We strongly recommend small vehicles only, not houses. It sounds silly, I know. But a homeowner in 1977 found out the hard way that this was not a good idea. It sunk!

And if we’re really lucky, the ice will firm up, giving us all access to the Meyer’s Beach Ice Caves. This spectacular site has not occurred since 2014, but if this is the year it happens, there will be an entire blog post about it because, trust me, one paragraph is not enough to describe the beauty nature creates.

No matter which activity you choose, Seagull Bay is here to help you warm up at the end of the day.

Seagull Bay Is Your Basecamp for All Your Winter Adventures

Seagull Bay Motel in Bayfield, WI

Bayfield’s landscape in summer or winter is eye-catching. Sitting on the shores of Lake Superior, it’s hard to go anywhere without at least getting a glimpse of the big water – even when it’s covered with ice.

One of the big draws for Isaac and me, when we purchased Seagull Bay, was its location. Seagull Bay, including Bay West and The Brownstone Cottage, are all located on the edge of the eastern shoreline of Chequamegon Bay.

All three properties look toward the south channel of the bay and are the perfect places to watch the sunrise over Madeline Island. Not only that, but The Brownstone Trail is steps away from your room. 

Conveniently located minutes from downtown and Mt. Ashwabay, Seagull Bay offers ease and fuss-free lodging with old-school charm and modern design.

To help take some of the stress out of planning your next adventure, we created our Seasonal Adventure Guide to help you plan the perfect weekend while cross-country skiing in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Your Memories with a View!

Mollie, Isaac, Axel, Ridge, and Banks

QUICK LINKS:

Mt. Ashwabay 

Book Across The Bay 

January 22, 2024

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